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Simon the Fiddler
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May 2020: Other Books > [Poll Ballot] Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles - 3 stars

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Joy D | 3206 comments Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles - 3 stars - My Review

Protagonist Simon Boudlin is serving as a regimental musician in the Confederate Army. His unit surrenders to Union forces after one of the last skirmishes of the American Civil War. He briefly meets his love interest, Miss Dillon, an immigrant from Ireland, at a musical performance. She is an indentured governess to a Union colonel and his family.

To make a living, Simon relies on his fiddle. He journeys around Texas with a group of fellow musicians. His goal is to save money, buy land, and find Miss Dillon at the colonel’s home in San Antonio. Another musician writes to Miss Dillon on Simon’s behalf, claiming common Irish ancestry. This allows Simon to keep in touch with her without any impropriety. While traveling, Simon and his fellow itinerant musicians experience a variety of capers.

I was initially attracted to this book due to its depiction of the music of the 1860’s. The author mentions a variety of songs, instruments, and types of performances that would be typical of the time. It is well-written, but the characters’ motivations are unclear, and it follows a rather predictable path.

Sometimes a book suffers by the sequence in which it is read, as is the case here. I had previously read and loved this author’s News of the World. There are a few common characters between the two books, and it is set in the same period and region. This book is a prequel of sorts. While I enjoyed Simon the Fiddler, it is not in the same league as News of the World.


message 2: by NancyJ (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4996 comments Thanks for the helpful review. I have this one on my hold list for when the library reopens. I was really hoping to find another book like News of the World, but that might be asking a lot. It was a very special book. Right now, I couldn't even say what made it so great, but I know I'll want to read it again.


Joy D | 3206 comments NancyJ wrote: "Thanks for the helpful review. I have this one on my hold list for when the library reopens. I was really hoping to find another book like News of the World, but that might be asking a lot. It was ..."

My pleasure, Nancy. For me, the characters in News of the World are extremely memorable, and the journey shows growth and understanding of two people with vast differences. I just loved it.


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